Snake in the Grass: Arizona's Barry Enright Quietly Having Stellar Rookie Season
Chances are that if you were around, you remember the 1986 baseball season.
A season capped by an exciting World Series that was best known for being the launching pad for several successful major league careers, including those of Barry Bonds, Greg Maddux, Mark McGwire, Fred McGriff, Barry Larkin, David Cone, Bo Jackson, Jamie Moyer, Steve Finley, Will Clark, and Rafael Palmeiro.
There were some impressive debuts that year, too. Will Clark hit a home run in his first at-bat, off of Nolan Ryan. Jimmy Jones pitched a one-hitter in his first major league appearance for San Diego. Greg Maddux had a shutout in his second career appearance.
Much like 1986, this season has been big on rookies.
You may be getting tired of reading the stories about how the likes of Jaime Garica, Jason Heyward, Neftali Feliz, Buster Posey, Aroldis Chapman, Starlin Castro, Adalberto Mendez, Logan Morrison, Mike Leake, Travis Wood, Danny Valencia, Danny Espinosa, Daniel Nava, Mike Stanton, and Chris Sale are forming the best rookie class since that magical '86 season.
You may be tired of the stories of the amazing debuts of Starlin Castro, Aroldis Chapman, Daniel Nava, and recently, Adalberto Melendez.
Hold on one second longer, because one rookie still doesn't get his due when this amazing season is spoken about.
That man is Barry Enright.
Don't be surprised if this is the first you've heard of Enright, who, at the tender age of 24, has been the Diamondbacks' most consistent starter this year.
A quick sweep of Google will give you about 448,000 results for the phrase "Barry Enright", but over 1.8 million for "Stephen Strasburg".
He's flown largely under the radar, despite one of the best rookie seasons in Arizona's relatively short history.
All season, Enright has mowed down hitters with quiet precision, posting an ERA of 2.45, second among rookies to only Jaime Garcia. He has shown remarkable success in pitching to contact. Despite only averaging only five strikeouts per nine innings, Enright's WHIP is lower than that of Garcia's, and several major league stalwarts, like CC Sabathia and Danny Haren.
He's done all of this despite pitching in an extreme hitters' park, where a lack of strikeouts usually points to a tendency for the long ball.
And you'd be right. Enright has given up one homer per nine innings, but has been able to minimize mistakes otherwise. He holds opponents to a .191 average and posting a 5.5 K/BB ratio in 51 plate appearances with runners in scoring position.
Enright seems to know what's going on, saying, "The tough times are the ones that truly show you who you are."
By buckling down with runners on, he has shown tenacity and mental ability usually reserved for veterans.
Am I saying Barry Enright is my choice for Rookie of the Year? Not quite. His BAbip of .259 and xFIP of 4.84 show that his numbers can't be held up for much longer. But with just one month left on the schedule, do they really need to?
For now, let's just sit back and watch one of the most under-reported rookie seasons in years.
When people look back and talk about the stunning rookies that debuted this season, don't be surprised if Enright's name comes to the forefront of the discussion. Smart young pitchers are hard to find in this league.
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